The New Bootleggers


By the time the knife went into record exec Lance “Un” Rivera last week, bootleg copies of Jay-Z’s latest CD, Vol. 3 The Life and Times of Shawn Carter, were all over the city—splayed out on those folding tables manned by guys hawking blankets full of goods all over Midtown. Jay-Z (a/k/a Shawn Carter) saw them there, officials say, which is why the rap star allegedly stabbed the record exec. Vol. 3 isn’t even scheduled to hit stores until Dec 28. But the bootleg may reach AVENUE D before that.

Lieutenant Vincent Neefus of the Hempstead Village Police Department says there haven’t been any sightings or arrests. But patron Milton Walla, who used to be a manager for a Long Island rapper, says, “Actually, people come here to sell stuff,” adding that he’d been offered an R. Kelly double CD for $10. “The manager kicks them out.”

Even those who are booted out have it pretty good. Avenue D is located in a strip mall, where there’s some privacy and a whole lot of parking. And a trunk will hold more merchandise than a card table any day. Since this hip-hop club’s patrons have to pass through the lot to get to the door, potential customers are aplenty. Besides, two similar clubs are just a few miles away.

But not everyone’s up for a sale. Walla says he didn’t buy the R. Kelly package—even though it’s a great bargain—because the artist doesn’t get credit. And he won’t buy Vol. 3 out of a trunk, either.

He says he saw how the record companies operate when he managed the rapper Soldier of Truth. One well-known label, he says, offered him a contract with 2 percent of the sales, leaving Walla out completely. “It’s a messed-up industry,” he says. “It’s dog-eat-dog.”

AVENUE D 628 Fulton Ave, Hempstead, 516-505-9277.